Viva la Vida
By Billy Marsh
Leos steal the show in siege conditions
Following some midweek back and forthing, Leos 3s met Leeds Medics 2 at Boddington playing fields for a rather frosty affair.
The home side came out guns ablazing with a frantic left-right attack attempting to stretch the men from the crag but there was no space to be found. Hard to say whether it was nerves or excitement but despite the defensive efforts, Leos never quite got a hand on the ball in the opening exchanges... Unless they were giving away a penalty.
Showing what is becoming quite a trademark resolve however, the travelling Leos held firm and eventually found their chance to win some ball following some medical handling errors; I can now fully appreciate why they need 4-5 years training before being trusted with a scalpel!
Unfortunately, Medics lost a prop before the whistle and with no other options in the side, scrums were uncontested with 8 pickups also disallowed. Naturally, this gave both sets of forwards a bit more pep and changed the complexion of the game, in a way, it became total rugby.
With the set piece now a guaranteed return on investment, both sides tried to (perhaps too hard) use this to their advantage. Tom Bartlett at first receiver for Leos had a fine day out and used centres Jake McKinley and Will Ofushene to good effect. Regardless of the bedazzling feet, or slick offloads, the final pass proved elusive and Leos failed to seal the deal.
Identifying some hangers on at rucks, Leos led the charge upfield with Adam Ketteringham, Si Haworth and Kenny Parsons offering all the grace of a bucket of semtex blew the opposition away whilst Callum Dixon and Killian Lines provided deft feet to see the visitors make much needed yards.
Opportunity knocked towards the backend of the first half with a series of forward balls culminating with Billy Marsh squeezing over for a sorely needed score. Charles' kick went somewhat wide of the mark, the golden boots clearly in his other kitbag.
The first half closed out much like it had started, plenty of go forward from both sides but never enough to threaten the opposing try line.
Half time came around and following some impassioned oratory from Kenny, the boys in blue knew what was needed.
Before long there was jubilation once more when Alex Conn timed his run to perfection, latching on to a kick from Tom B that caught the medics back three sleeping. Given Charles' earlier misdemeanor who better to step up and steady the ship than hooker Jim Cappel... Third team rugby at its finest... Conversion missed, terribly missed.
Starting to smell blood, this could have been where Leos pulled off a few killer blows but the medics were not here to roll over and play nice. A few strategic changes of personnel at the interval gifted them with fresh legs and a touch more intensity.
Perhaps switching off momentarily, Leos were on the backfoot, chasing strong runners. A coriolis defying pass out wide saw medics' winger stride over for 5 points. A deserved, yet fortunate score for the home side.
As far as points went, that was it for the game. Naturally however, it wasn't the end of the action.
The next 20 minutes saw both sides edge back and forth with the majority of territory being held in the medics half. The aerial assualt from Tom B's boot didn't find much fruit but Jake came agonisingly close only to lose the ball on the line; Will sliced the defence apart but found himself isolated and ultimately turned over; Alex returned any long kicks hard, making the medics 10 think twice about any exit sets and the pack knocked on the door countless times. It just wasn't to be.
Three key moments stood out amongst the melee however with Chris Martin's marmalising hit on a full flight medic. I'm sure he'd like to turn back the clocks, but what a fixture if any, to find someone, to fix you.
A no armed tackle on the beleaguered Alex saw medics reduced to 14. Having been on the receiving end of a few stamps earlier on in the game, the Leos full back could likely have done without that cherry on the cake but thankfully appeared to be okay after a bit of water and fresh air.
Finally, a turnover at the death from Kenny sealed the game as the final whistle blew to the sound of some thunderous roars.
A war of attrition was not on the cards for anyone pre-game but a real classic tale of trench warfare kicked off. Icy wind burned the lungs of many and both sides refused to give an inch.
The spoils ultimately fell to Leos who on balance, took their chances better and held their nerve in key areas.
Man of the match for Leos goes to Tom Bartlett for a very composed performance at 10, vision in the assist for Alex's try was the difference between the two sides.
Leos retired to the plush changing rooms to hear that the 1s had just sealed an 8th successive win and the twos had performed a demolition job. 3 from 3, a very, very good time to be a Leo.